Red Cross allies with African bank to promote gender equality

By on 17/02/2019 | Updated on 25/09/2020
Women in the lead: new initiative aims to channel investment cash to women entrepreneurs across Africa

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have signed a pledge to collaborate on promoting gender equality and economic opportunities in Africa’s transition countries, the two organisations have announced.

The agreement will bolster the bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) programme, its Vice-President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development Jennifer Blanke said. AFAWA is a pan-African initiative, with the over-arching objectives of bridging the finance gap for women in Africa and unlocking their entrepreneurial and leadership capacity.

The Red Cross partnership is designed to increase women’s access to investment capital, channeling around US$3bn from the bank’s development partners and development finance institutions to women-owned and -led businesses.
These funds are intended to act as seed capital, encouraging commercial banks and other private investors to provide further cash – and thus supporting both economic growth and gender equality.

Plugging a gap

“We have agreed to bring together our respective strengths and expertise to build resilience, gender equality, economic opportunity and, ultimately, to improve the lives of millions of Africans in fragile environments,” Blanke said.

According to Peter Mauer, President of the ICRC, the partnership will help bolster development work by strengthening the links between finance, national governments and charity work.
“The bank’s main stakeholders are [African] states, and we work in places and regions where the state is absent for various reasons. This complementarity can bridge the security-development gap, producing more sustainable results and enhancing development impact,” he stated.

The agreement envisages the creation of a dialogue with African governments to support legal, policy and regulatory reforms supporting female entrepreneurship, he added. The organisations also agreed to support African countries to build capable, efficient, open, inclusive, and accountable institutions, participating in public policy development.

About Edgar Rwakenya

Edgar Rwakenya is a reporter based in Kenya whose work has been published both online and in print. He has over 12 years of extensive experience in business, finance, taxation, oil and gas reporting in Africa. He has been a reporter for bne IntelliNews, Haymarket Media Group’s SC Media UK,, Argus Media and Skye Media. He has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including Skye Media magazine and The Moodie Davitt Report. He graduated from the University of Dar es Salaam with a Bachelor of Mass Communication.

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